I am honoured to write the introduction for the 2024 Interior Design Yearbook. As interior designers and architects, we stand at the dawn of a new era: the era of AI. Technology has leapt forward to such an extent that many industries – including those within the rarefied world of the creative arts and design – have been abruptly confronted with the likelihood of seismic change. Software advances had, prior to this point, slowly permeated the design sphere over the last decade, quietly changing almost ever facet of our creative processes, from how we find inspiration and develop ideas right through to how we then present and organise our designs, This has been most evident in the programs and web-based applications we use; CAD replacing the drawing board; Pinterest replacing the pinboard; the Photoshop cursor replacing the brush of a watercolourist.
However, what we see today with the development of AI, is a technological advance of much greater magnitude: the possibility of an omniscient and omnipotent technology that has the capacity to create ideas and designs from scratch, and potentially replace the human element across multiple aspects of the creative industries.
To many, this is a revolution to be embraced. To others, it feels like an ‘end game’ for the creative arts, one that we have been steadily moving towards for some time. But I stand somewhere in the middle. One thing is certain: living in the contemporary worlds, we cannot ignore AI, we cannot retire to the attic, Luddites with our quills tightly held, drawing by the flickering candleflame in the half light. We must grasp the possibilities of AI and steer its usage to the benefit of design, and to the benefits of our clients.
I firmly believe that, in the sphere of Interior Design, nuance, emotion, personal insight and a uniquely human viewpoint, will remain central. These irreplaceable attributes give our designs depth and originality. Bu AI could still be an incredible and very powerful force of good: a gamechanger for helping ensure that buildings are built with sustainability, longevity and beauty at their heart. Artificial Intelligence algorithms are apparently now capable of compiling data on which buildings and environments are good for our health and psychological wellbeing. This is undoubtedly a powerful tool that, if harnessed in the right way, could transform how public and social housing is built.
The importance of life-enhancing, thoughtful design is something I have witnessed through my work with The Childhood Trust, and see in King Charles’ development at Poundbury. It is an ambition we strive to achieve every day for our clients. I think AI could help finally, to democratise positive, enriching and uplifting design and make it accessible for all. I believe that is a possibility worth advancing.
A quick objective glance tells us that there is a great deal of bad, oppressive, poorly considered design in the world. AI might conceivably change that.